Core workouts can vary a lot because of all the exercise options out there. Discover how to do high crunches and whether they offer benefits.
High crunches are a crunch exercise variation where you hold your hands as high as possible throughout the movement with your arms stretched.
The different hand position does not really offer any positive effects over the regular crunch exercise.
High crunches could even be less effective than the regular version if you swing your arms instead of using your abs to raise your shoulders.
So while high crunches can still help many people get bigger and stronger abs, there are more effective exercise options too.
How to do a high crunch
Something like a yoga mat can be helpful in high crunches to make things more comfortable.
That aside, take the following steps to do this exercise:
- Lie down on your back and put your feet flat on the ground. Keep your hands as high as possible throughout the rest of the exercise. You need to adjust the upward angle of your arms to do this.
- Raise your shoulders as far as comfortable in a controlled motion. Make sure you use your abs and not the swinging of your arms to power this movement.
- Slowly lower your shoulders back to the ground.
The main challenge in high crunches is not swinging your arms too much.
You also want to pay some attention to keeping your neck in line with your upper body.
High crunches muscles worked
If you don’t swing your arms too much, the main muscles worked in high crunches are your abs.
Your latissimus dorsi (middle/upper back muscle) will have to work to a tiny extent to keep your arms in the air.
Raising your arms in the air while doing high crunches does not really do anything good for the main target muscles of the exercise.
The arm movements could even take some of the pressure off your abs which is generally not what you want when working these muscles.
Besides that, you still need to do enough crunch reps and sets with enough weight to see results from doing high crunches.
Something straightforward like 100 high crunches a day divided into 3 to 6 sets can actually be good if you use enough resistance.
High crunch benefits
Since the specific high crunch technique does not really change much, you can expect the regular crunch benefits from this exercise. Some of the main ones are:
- Stronger muscles: High crunches make it easy to work your abs to the point where they can get bigger and stronger.
- No equipment or location required: High crunches are a bodyweight exercise. This means you don’t have to spend any money or be in specific locations to work your abs.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Making your abs stronger can reduce and prevent back pain (1, 2). People who struggle in this area do want to be careful with high crunches.
- Can make your six-pack more visible: Growing your ab muscles can make them stand out more if they are not covered by body fat. Many people will like how this looks.
High crunches are not necessarily the top option for these benefits but these do show you the power of ab exercises like this.
High crunch alternatives
If you don’t necessarily like doing high crunches, some of the alternatives below can offer you more results:
- (Weighted) Regular crunches
- Other crunch variations
- Hanging knee raises
- Bicycle crunches
- Ab wheel roll-outs
If you want to get the benefits from high crunches to a larger extent, weighted crunches will likely be the best option.
In other situations, other alternatives could align more with your goals and preferences.
Are high crunches a good exercise?
High crunches are a good exercise in the sense that they can still help you grow and strengthen your ab muscles. This offers a variety of secondary benefits.
At the same time, the extra arm movements do not really help. They could even make your ab workout less optimal.
If you don’t necessarily like doing high crunches, you will likely get more results from doing the regular version or other core exercises.
Potentially with some crunch exercise equipment to make the movements more challenging.
People who do find high crunches more fun than regular crunches or other variations can still implement this move. It can still offer nice positive effects.